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  • Achieving star-worthy status
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  • Achieving star-worthy status

    MSUM planetarian leads international organization

    Brittany Dunnigan
    Dave Weinrich has embraced his passion for the sky since the age of 12 and continues to share his knowledge and excitement for the world beyond our own as a teacher, coordinator of the MSUM Planetarium, and elected official of the International Planetarium Society (IPS).
    Weinrich joined the Great Lakes Planetarium Association, a regional chapter of IPS, in 1983, and attended his first conference in 1984. It wasn’t until the 2000 conference in Montreal that Weinrich became increasingly involved in the organization. He was elected president elect of IPS for the 2009-2010 calendar year, served as president in 2011-2012, and will serve as an elected official through 2014. This international honor was attained after much hard work and persistence.
    Weinrich’s passion for exploring the skies is what sparked his curiosity for exploring the world. He received his bachelor’s degree in physics from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and taught high school science. A few years later, he joined the Peace Corps and taught two years each in Liberia and Ghana.
    Since his Peace Corps experience, Weinrich has returned to Africa numerous times. During a 2006 trip to Liberia, Weinrich stopped in Ghana for a few days to watch an eclipse. It was there he met a fellow sky enthusiast who wanted to build a planetarium in Ghana. This became a project of passion for Weinrich. After many phone calls and hours of research, a projector was found and the project became possible. A few years later, the planetarium in Ghana was completed.
    “It was the kind of project people wanted to get involved in. And gradually over time, I gained visibility in the IPS organization through my work on this project,” Weinrich said.
    This visibility earned Weinrich the opportunity to represent the regional chapter at IPS conferences, eventually leading to his presidential election of the international organization. IPS is the global association of planetarium professionals. With nearly 700 members from 35 countries worldwide, this organization has representatives from universities, museums and public facilities of all sizes across the globe.
    As president, Weinrich organized the 2011 International Conference in Russia. He has also attended international meetings in Montreal, Australia, Spain and Egypt, fulfilling his passion for travel.
    Weinrich advises students to, “Do what you have a passion for and consider other things besides monetary reward. Yes, you need to earn a living, but you can earn a living doing your passion. It is about doing what you love.”
    Weinrich also encourages students to get to know people, get an education, and take advantage of opportunities.
    “If you have prepared yourself and gotten yourself ready, then when opportunity knocks, you can walk through the door,” Weinrich said.
    The MSUM Planetarium is located in Bridges Hall, Room 167. It offers a variety of programs and public shows year-round, providing an awe-inspiring learning experience through digital, visual and traditional projectors. For more information, visit the MSUM Planetarium website